The .14 Cent Solution

New royalties proposed by the music industry threaten to kill independent Internet radio

 

Islands in the Stream

EDITOR'S NOTE:The airwaves don't reach far enough. Right this moment Dadaist sound poetry, obscure Japanese cult hits, and a bizarre patter of police reports are being streamed over the Web at stations in the U.S., the U.K., even Canada, for goodness sake. But without Internet radio, we wouldn't have access to any of it. The ruinous new royalty rules proposed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act might soon make Webcasting prohibitively expensive: Even tiny, profitless stations could easily owe $250,000 in back payments. But until the U.S. Copyright Office announces its death sentence, we'll be listening to these, an informal collection of our favorite online stations. Some of them may survive the advent of the new royalty regime; others won't. Tune in now while the listening is good.

 

 

ANTENNA RADIO* www.antennaradio.com

*Loosely based in Seattle, Antenna Radio plays like the ten college radio stations of your dreams, offering everything from talk radio to classic punk to stringy vintage country blues. Each of its regular shows produces a fresh hour or two of programming each week, with the previous week's programs available in the archives. (After that, you're left humming along to the playlists.) The site and its ever-changing roster are strictly DIY, which DJ/station manager Scott Bass credits for Antenna's success. Though they've been pumping out music since 1997, they've never had a business plan, or the slightest hope of profit. Which leaves them hoping to fly under the RIAA's radar if the CARP whip comes down: "We have a volunteer Webmaster," snorts Bass. "You think we've got a lawyer?!" Highlights include "Japan-O-Rama" (Japanese girly pop) and "Friendly Persuasion" (strange spoken-word and musical fragments on a central theme). --Angela Gunn

 

 

APB NEWS* www.apbnews.com

*A site that paranoids, gossips, and junior detectives can all enjoy, New York's APB News features live police-scanner broadcasts from every major U.S. city. Sit back in the darkness of your bedroom while policemen-cum-DJs from Baltimore to Los Angeles put out a terrifying variety of all-points bulletins. In time, you'll be able to distinguish a 10-54 (possible dead body) from a 10-58 (garbage complaint) and 10-91h (stray horse). If the broadcasts leave you wanting more, APB is your link to the crime over-world, from stories currently in the news ("Philadelphia Man Gets Prison Sentence for Feeding Cocaine to Baby") to commentary by such luminaries as former New York police commissioner William Bratton and Columbia University professor David J. Krajicek. The only downside is that there are so many paranoids, gossips, and junior detectives among us that Web traffic often exceeds APB's capacity. For best results, log on in the still hours of the night. And lock your back door. --Amanda Ferguson

 

 

COSMIC SLOP* www.stitzel.com/slop

*Though it's been down for a while, the Web version of KUOM's (770 AM) Sunday-afternoon showcase of vintage pop is definitely not out. In fact, DJ Joel Stitzel is expanding his Internet presence, bringing attention to music that broadcast radio ignores or has forgotten. He starts with an enormous playlist of nearly 1,500 songs covering the years between John Kennedy's and Jimmy Carter's administrations, and plans to add dozens more as time goes on. Though sometimes the playlist leans toward Seventies soft rock--a sphere of music that has now disappeared from the AM and FM dials--Stitzel's eclecticism means you'll hear a little bit of just about everything if you tune in long enough. Funk, easy listening, U.K. punk: It's all in there. The Alan Parsons Project might segue into Foghat, followed by James Brown, David Bowie, and the Buzzcocks. Stitzel also makes sure to give airtime to praiseworthy fringe artists like Billy Nicholls and Judee Sill. For Cosmic Slop, a great tune is a great tune, no matter what genre it's from--a philosophy corporate radio has long since disposed of. --Christopher Bahn

 

 

ESSENTIAL MIXand JOHN PEEL* www.bbc.co.uk/radio1

*Decent dance songs get about as much play on major U.S. stations as music does on talk radio. Which makes England's Essential Mix, on the air since 1993, all the more essential to statesiders. Broadcast from the U.K. to the homes (and now, computers) of innumerable beat keepers across the planet, this BBC Radio 1 show has aired some of the world's best DJ sets by the likes of Basement Jaxx, Cassius, BT, Dave Clarke, Derrick Carter. The wildly popular program, headed by the recognizably tart voice of London's DJ Pete Tong, is in syndication on more than 150 college radio stations in America. But it has snagged even more devoted dance-music fans through its live Webcasts and CD compilations. Perhaps a certain local station that brags it plays "the hottest in dance"--by Pink and Kylie Minogue, no less--should check out the site's playlist. --Jen Boyles

 

*Radio1 also allows the Yanks unlimited access to the college radio DJ's patron saint, John Peel--a purveyor of all things underground and mainstream in music. A broadcaster for more than 40 years and a former DJ on legendary pirate station Radio London, Peel currently airs his program three times a week and later archives it. Nowhere else can you track down such crisp performances from the likes of Cinerama, Clinic, and the White Stripes, not to mention artists like the Bays and Goatboy, who are still fairly unheard-of here in the States. If you usually just wait for bootlegs of these precious musical sessions to be widely distributed, you're missing out on Peel's infamously unpredictable interview style, which can be heard before and after the songs. --Kate Silver

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